"‘This is definitely the worst bleaching event that Florida has ever seen,’ one veteran researcher said, as a marine heat wave shows few signs of ending".
"Inside a low-slung building in the heart of the Florida Keys, Cynthia Lewis is running what she calls a “coral mass triage unit.”
As a blistering marine heat wave persists off the coast, a full-blown emergency is unfolding along the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States.
“If it remains this hot for the next six weeks, we are going to see a lot more coral mortality out there,” said Lewis, director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s Keys Marine Laboratory.
Already, scientists have reported widespread coral bleaching along parts of the roughly 360-mile-long reef, the third largest on the planet. If the heat drags on, they say, a massive coral die-off could follow, with grave consequences for fish and other ocean organisms that depend on the reefs, tourism, commercial fishing and part of the state’s very identity."